The nite that. Changed Tara Accetta’s life forever began. With a few. Beers in a Rockaways bar and plans for a midnite swim in a friend’s backyard pool.
this. Summer was supposed to. Be about. Fun — a last. Hurrah before facing the rigorous of. her. new. School, new. York University — and the gorgeous Brooklyn teen and her. Three pals just. Wanted to. Stay cool. On a hot July nite.
Accetta, 19, had been in the Neponsit pool the day before, on the sun-splashed Fourth of. July. Now, in the dark, she. Stood by. The 4-foot shallow end of. The inground pool, planning. to. glide. Across the water’s surface toward. The 9-foot deep end.
She’d made this. Type of. Dive countless times before.
this. Time, something went. Horribly wrong.
“I felt the back. right. Side of. my. Head hit the bottom of. The pool,” the old. mill. Basin teen told. The News.
“My body went. Into instant shock. I don’t remember being in pain. I floated, like a dead-man’s float.
“A friend pulled me. Out of. The pool. I told. him, ‘I can’t move. my. Body. You need. to. Call an. Ambulance. And call my. Mother.’”
Courtesy Accetta Family Tara Accetta’s brother Ray, dad Raymond, mom Cathy and sister Colleen (far right) support Tara (second from. Right).
Another friend woke Accetta’s mom with the awful news: her. Beautiful daughter’s neck was broken.
Accetta’s torso and legs are paralyzed. She’s unlikely. to. ever. Walk again.
Instead of. Going to. College, she’s in a rehabilitation hospital, struggling to. Train her. Upper body to. Do basic tasks such as sitting up straight. Regaining control over her. Hand motions.
she. Sees her. July 5 accident as a cautionary tale. about. Careless teen behavior.
“People my. Age think. We’re invincible,” she. said. from. her. Hospital bed at NYU’s Rusk Institute.
new. York Daily News
“We think. nothing. bad. will. ever. Happen to. Us. our. Parents try. to. Protect us, but. we. Don’t learn until. we. Break our. Necks in a pool.
“There are simple things. we. Don’t focus on, like we. Drive with the music too. Loud or. Hang out in parks late at nite.”
her. Drinking didn’t cause. her. Botched dive, she. Insisted.
she. Had a couple beers at the bar, then drank water during. her. Final hour and a half there, she. said. she. Thought she. Was in fit shape to. Swim.
her. Heartsick parents are trying. to. Make sense of. how. this. Could happen to. The girl who’d been swimming since she. Was a tot.
Courtesy Accetta Family Tara Accetta in family photos before the July, 2012 accident.
“This girl lived for summer,” said. her. Mom, Cathy Accetta, 45. “She loved. The beach. she. Adored the water.”